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Day 3: Highly pregnant more than four hours by foot

04.11.2022

After a restful night, Nino leaves first thing in the morning for another remote village: Moeaneng.

After a good night's sleep, first thing in the morning the journey takes Nino to another remote village: Moeaneng. Senior nurse Laetitia Tanka tells in advance that the temperatures here are below zero and there is snow in the months of July to August. Then the villages are even harder to reach. SolidarMed Ambassador Nino Schurter asks what the people eat then. They plant various legumes and cereals and let them dry for the cold months. Unfortunately, however, the harvests have been poor because of the heavy rains in recent years. These are probably a product of climate change, whose impact is strongly felt by the people here.

 

When SolidarMed started working in the Mokhotlong district in 2018, the region was the sad number one ranking of most malnourished and undernourished children under five in Lesotho. The situation has improved since then and it is hoped that it will not get worse again due to climatic changes.

After a two-hour drive, although only 30 kilometres away, Nino on the mountain bike and the mobile clinic arrive in Moeaneng at the same time. Like yesterday, it is the children who are the first to react curiously to the mountain biker. Nino holds out his hand to an initially very shy girl. After she has gained some confidence, she grasps his index finger firmly. "It is always impressive how open-heartedly you are welcomed everywhere," Nino says. He takes the opportunity to call his daughter Lisa (7) by video call and let the children greet each other. Suddenly Lesotho and Switzerland seem very close.

The meeting at the Adolescence Centre in Mokhotlong begins with a dance - and Nino also joins in the young people's joy of life.

The peer educators educate young people of the same age about issues such as HIV, teenage pregnancy and drug use in the villages.

Nino listens intently to the young people - some of the stories visibly touch him.

In Moeaneng, Nino meets grandmother Manthuseng Ralithakong (63), who has come to the mobile clinic with her four grandchildren (2, twice 3 and 4 years old) for vaccinations. She heard about it at an information meeting in the village. Since the children's parents have gone to South Africa to look for work, she takes care of the little ones. Because Manthuseng does not have a mobile phone, neither she nor the children have had contact with their parents since they left.

The grandmother goes on to tell how difficult it is to go to a health centre for the birth of a baby. She used to brew beer at home and sell it so that she could at least pay for her pregnant daughters' transport. But this is only possible from the big crossroads - it is up to 4 hours on foot to get there. At least the mobile clinic can now bring the important antenatal care appointments to the villages. She herself gave birth to two of her children in her hut without medical support.

“At the monthly meetings in the Adolescence Centre, the peer educators can exchange ideas, share experiences and share advice”, explains Mamonyane Makhetha - SolidarMed staff member.

"It is always impressive how open-heartedly you are welcomed everywhere."

Nino Schurter, SolidarMed Goodwill Ambassador.

Marethabile Mashile, 24, also struggled to pay for transport to the nearest hospital in Mokhotlong for the birth of her baby. She walked the 4 hours while heavily pregnant. Meanwhile, her baby is eleven months old. Today, Marethabile has come to have her baby vaccinated on the one hand and to get contraceptives on the other. Otherwise she would have to take the difficult journey to the nearest health centre.

Contraception and sex education will also be a topic on the fourth and last day. Then Nino will visit a youth centre in Mokhotlong. But first it's back over the bumpy road, which is definitely more pleasant on a mountain bike than in the mobile clinic.

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More insights into Nino's journey

Read in our regular articles what Nino Schurter experiences on his journey through the mountains and get an idea of the unexceptional landscape of Lesotho.